On April 12, 1945, Sergeant Ikuichirō Terasawa took
off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of
Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member of the 20th Shinbu Special
Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code
name of Oscar). He was from Gunma Prefecture and was a member of the 10th Class
of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.
Has everyone been doing well? I am in high spirits as usual. I think that
life in the countryside is truly very hard.
On the 23rd, I went to OO  Naval Air Group
in Kyūshū and made bombing attacks on an aircraft carrier.
I could not hit a moving target at all, but if it were an American or
British aircraft carrier, I will show that I will hit it with an absolutely
Today on February 1 was the first day that had meaning since I first flew
It takes a full three years to become a pilot. I was a person who had not
been very useful, but I made it until today without any accident. I deeply
appreciate this gift with only prayers of Father, Mother, and my fellow
With prudence until the time of an enemy attack, I am determined to do my
The enclosed photograph of me in my old stand-by Hayabusa
fighter was taken by a comrade.
Please rest assured since I am living without any inconvenience.
I wish success for everyone.
From OO Base
Father, Mother, and everyone, are you doing well? I am in high spirits.
Until now I have not been blessed with fortunes of war and have been
unable to serve. Finally the sortie has drawn near.
I will work hard until the end in order to repay your trust and your
great kindness deeper than the sea and higher than the mountains.
With strength in spirit from training since December 8 of last year as a
member of the 20th Shinbu Squadron, I certainly will carry out a
certain-death taiatari (body-crashing) attack.
Older Sister, please take care of things afterward.
Shōji, Eizō, Mitsuo, and Hideo, follow my long-time teachings and become
"useful persons for the Empire."
Give my regards to everyone in Hara.
Give my regards to everyone in the neighborhood.
Kyūshū Miyakonojō Base
- Father and Mother, regarding Eizō's matters, please do them as much
as possible according to the wishes of Mother in Matsushima.
- As I requested before, I ask that you send thanks to persons who
helped me during my lifetime.
- I entrusted several swords, a safety razor, and a military unit memo book
to Private 1st Class Shinkawa who was on duty. My other personal
belongings were lost in a bombing attack.
- The postal bankbook number that was burned up in bombing attack is i33 11129.
- I have not had any recent contact with my close friend Tomio
Yamamoto. If you can inquire, give my warm regards to him and his sister
April 3, at Chiran Base in southern Kyūshū
I have neglected to write for a while.
To Father and everyone, I trust that you are going well.
I also finally have plunged into the long-awaited decisive battle for the
homeland. I have confidence that I will not lose to anyone.
Since in the beginning I joined the special attack squadron in the
homeland, I will show the results of my training since its formation on
December 8, 1944.
With apologies for being remiss in writing, for reference I will let you
know my recent movements.
- March 16 - Advanced from Akeno Airfield in Mie Prefecture to Ōita
- March 18 - Advanced from Ōita Airfield to Hōfu in Yamaguchi
- March 25 - Advanced from Hōfu to Miyakonojō
- March 27 - Advanced from Miyakonojō to Chiran
- March 29 - Advanced from Chiran to Tokunoshima. Unfortunately my
aircraft was burned by "Grumman" fighters.
- April 2 - Went back to Chiran from Tokunoshima. Making ready my
fighting power, I will make a sortie shortly.
About when this letter arrives, I am determined certainly to have carried
out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack.
The last letter written at Miyakonojō is odd, but I have entrusted my
final written thoughts to a person in charge.
This is the writing if I have reached my objective, but there are no
regrets even if unfortunately I die in battle under other conditions without
having accomplished my objective.
As for my spirit, since I have worked until now hoping always for the
highest public service, please look at my personal history and my military
unit memo book that I have attached.
At the end of March I was able to meet with everyone for a final farewell
and I was able to go to even Mother in Matsushima for a farewell, so I have
I would like everyone to be glad that it is a fact that my unit, the 20th
Shinbu Squadron with Captain Hasegawa as Squadron Commander, is the most
powerful special attack squadron in Japan.
I received twice as much kindness from Squadron Commander Hasegawa, who
is my senior from the same prefecture. Please communicate my thanks to his
I no longer will be able to provide either letters or news from anywhere.
Like the winds and clouds, wherever I go and whatever type of situation
that I face, at any rate I will do my best. Please be assured.
Private 1st Class Kiyoshi Shinkawa sent the following letter to Terasawa's
parents after Terasawa advanced from Miyakonojō Air Base to Chiran Air Base on
March 27, 1945:
Dear Parents of Sergeant Terasawa,
Today on OO, Sergeant Terasawa departed to realize his long-cherished
desire for many years and in high spirits to attack and destroy the enemy
He spoke to me just before his departure. He said, "I absolutely will
sink instantly an enemy aircraft carrier." When I returned to my home, I did
not tell my Father and Mother that I had volunteered for the Special Attack
Corps. Nobody wants to die. It is the same whether for 30 persons or for 80
old women. However, I am young. I am a Japanese person. If I have fervent
zeal, I will be a youth of the Empire who will have an effect. If I do not
sink the enemy, who will sink the enemy ships? I will go, and I
certainly will succeed. If I die splendidly in battle, I believe that my parents also
will be glad. I will do it while smiling.
I think that your son was the truly proper ideal of a Japanese military
man. I remember his figure when he treated his subordinates calmly without
being haughty to them. I surely am determined to follow Sergeant Terasawa's
teachings and follow after him.
I pray that you concentrate on taking care of yourselves and have every
March 27, 1945
Since my unit will move in the near future, there is no need for a reply.
The circumstances of his sortie as an Army Special Attack Corps member will
come out in a movie.
With my poor writing, later I will inform you of details. That's it for
Hooray for Sergeant Terasawa.
Since his personal items went up in flames in a bombing attack during
training at Ōita Hikōtai (Flying Squadron), there is nothing more than
belongings that Sergeant carried with him.
According to Sergeant Terasawa's words, I am sending only these. Please
The letters and biographical information come from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996,
33, 38-43). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 33), Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005,
165), and Osuo (2005, 195).